October 1, 2009
GH: Isle of Pines
This investigation is special for a couple of reasons. First off, apparently Meat Loaf is a huge Ghost Hunters fan and seemed almost beyond excited to be accompanying Jason and Grant on an investigation. We've seen celebrities join TAPS before on numerous occasions but never with quite so much enthusiasm — which honestly I thought was really great because his presence there seemed a lot less like a PR arrangement and more genuine. I might observe that untrained investigators still run the risk of misinterpreting evidence or any number of other pitfalls that shouldn't happen with trained investigators, but for whatever reason as anyone paying attention knows the entire TAPS team seems determined to mimic the inadequacies of untrained investigators anyway so no harm done.
Perhaps more interesting is the fact that their host is the winner of the Great American Ghost Hunt. Fans who have been following the series will recall two major contests, one where people submitted applications to become a member of the TAPS team and another where people described experiences at locations they thought TAPS would be interested in investigating. The first contest resulted in the winning finalist being in on exactly one investigation before reportedly bowing out due to work (or whatever) — so that seemed a bit of a letdown. The other contest only promised a single investigation, but it seemed even that one investigation might have been forgotten. Not so. This is that investigation, and it looked to be quite interesting. A private island, a full episode devoted to a single location, and Meat Load working a K-II meter? What more could a scientifically-minded viewer want? Wait. Scientific is a synonym for visceral, right? Well, one of those in any case.
As the investigation began we're treated to some very interesting evidence: Battery drains. In the past we've seen battery drains in various devices but almost exclusively one device at a time and not once have we heard about the batteries draining on any of the production crew's equipment, only TAPS' equipment. For that reason alone it's easy to suspect at best the cause was the TAPS team not checking/charging their equipment with the same level of professionalism expected of production camera crews. This case was different though — not only does Meat Loaf's camcorder battery die, but so does his audio recorder, AND one of the production cameras. On top of this, it looks like the battery on the FLIR is about empty as well. At the same time the K-II begins to go crazy.
All of this together seems firmly beyond coincidence. Frankly, if we didn't have excellent reason to believe at a minimum that Jay and Grant at least have violated the audience's trust on multiple occasions, and that the either they or the production company doctored thermal footage on at least one occasion and aired it as evidence, I might be inclined to say this is some of their best evidence to date. I will say this much: if we could rule out foul play then circumstantially these events are very strong evidence of something very odd going on around the investigators.
Of course, what went on next was much more familiar to fans of the show: Jason asked a bunch of questions and the K-II meter lit up in ways that were basically unquestionable responses that were far too numerous and perfectly timed to be coincidence. If we hadn't seen every other team member (not to mention every online amateur who has tried to run a serious investigation with a K-II) fail miserably trying to achieve any remotely similar level of success even once despite Jay & Grant getting this level of response extremely regularly, one might say it was impressive. All things considered however, it long ago degenerated from "very impressive" to "extremely suspicious". At the very least we know the walkie-talkies TAPS uses will light up the K-II like a Christmas tree if anyone hits the talk button within fifty feet, and there are undoubtedly even smaller devices that will do the same.
Granted, at this point it would be difficult for Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson to lose any more credibility in my eyes, but somehow it seems every time they reproduce these incredible (as in: too good and too consistent to be credible) results they manage to sink a little farther down. I have little doubt that some time in the future we will see Kris Williams having this kind of success with the K-II, just like this investigation finally marks the first and so-far only multiple battery failure and production crew battery failure. Even if it happened tomorrow though, it would be so late in the game that any thinking member of their audience would have to consider the possibility it might somehow be staged, just like this battery incident. If it had happened in Season Two it would have been impressive, but at this point it really just looks a lot like someone from TAPS or Pilgrim went through all the blogs and took notes on the major recurring criticisms, then wrote something into the show specifically to address them.
As usual though, Steve and Tango gave us no reason to suspect anything less than an honest investigation and even came up with some solid debunking — something they seem to be doing successfully more often as of late. For a time it seemed like the producers at Pilgrim were almost reducing them to comic relief, complaining about spiders and daring each other to do stupid things, and although that's not entirely gone it would seem Pilgrim heard the fans and backed off significantly. Now with more substance included in the aired portion of the investigations we get to see that Steve and Dave are making significant contributions to just about every investigation. In this case, there had been reports of music and other sounds outside the house and Steve observed how clearly he could hear a people at a party that was a half-mile or more distant across the water. He reasoned that if people reported hearing music coming from the house it's worth considering maybe they're mistaken about the origin and they were actually experiencing the acoustical oddity of clear sounds traveling very long distances across water.
Later on we see another K-II session that leaves nothing to be desired, this time with Meat Loaf asking most of the questions and Jay & Grant observing nearby. Twice Meat Loaf asked for and received a banging noise, although as even Meat Loaf noted, the noise wasn't coming from the room he was in with the K-II but rather from outside in another room near where Grant was standing (out of visual contact). I couldn't hold back the chuckle when Meat Loaf heard the noise coming from outside the room and asked, "That wasn't you, Grant?" and of course Grant answered, "No!" in a tone of voice that seemed genuinely surprised anyone would ask that question. Personally I don't know how anyone could not be suspicious when a spirit seems to be in one room when he's allegedly manipulating the K-II meter, but goes off-camera to another room when asked to make a sound.
In what might be a TAPS first, Meat Loaf put his bottle of water in a bathroom and asked any nearby spirits to bring the bottle closer to him — then he, Grant and Jason backed out of the bathroom and observed from a distance. I think it's important to note that Meat Loaf was not looking into the bathroom the entire time, so if there was any foul play there's no reason to believe he was aware of it. The thing is, on the one hand his water bottle was definitely moved. On the other hand, he left it in the bathroom — on the sill of an open first-floor window. I mean, I guess if we had blind trust that everyone on the production crew was completely honest and would never attempt to spice things up with false evidence, maybe then I'd ignore the fact that anyone could walk right up to the bathroom from the outside of the house and move the water bottle without Meat Loaf seeing anyone going in or out of the room, but since we're well past the blind trust stage of our relationship I'm forced to guffaw heartily at the very thought of taking this evidence as a paranormal occurrence.
Steve & Tango heard some knocking as well, but although it was very clear there was really no way to rule out non-paranormal causes. Frankly, after watching the reveal and hearing Grant's retelling of Meat Loaf's K-II session I really just have to shake my head. I mean, seriously — when Meat Loaf asks questions it lights up the K-II meter right next to him, but when he asks it to make a sound it goes outside and bangs a door he can't see, which also happens to be right next to where Grant is standing? If ghosts who are actively communicating in Room A can only make doors move in Room B where Grant is standing nearby and I can't see what's going on, well then I'm just going to have to assume either there is no ghost and Grant is banging the door while someone else manipulates the K-II with some sort of transmitter, or else there really is a ghost and he's determined to make poor, innocent Grant look suspicious.
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